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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 547

Papers of Jane Hope Hastings, 1941-1997


Correspondence, drafts of memoir, reports written for the United Service Organizations (USO), photographs, and other papers of Jane Hope Hastings.


  • Creation: 1941-1997

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Jane Hope Hastings is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1.79 linear feet ((2 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 8 photograph folders, 2 audiotapes)

This collection documents the personal and professional life of Jane Hope Hastings. The bulk consists of drafts and a published copy of her memoir, USO in Skagway, Alaska, 1943-1944; the drafts contain material not included in the published version. The remainder includes letters to her first husband Parkhurst Whitney, and Harold J. Barrett and his first wife Rose Barrett, who died in 1953 or 1954. Hastings and Barrett become engaged in January 1955; the letters reflect their courtship. Also included are a scrapbook, given to her at her retirement in 1955; a photograph album made by Hastings while she was stationed in Alaska; reports sent by Hastings to the National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and her supervisor within the USO, and the feedback received from her supervisors; and two oral history interviews with Hastings conducted by Eva Moseley of the Schlesinger Library in 1995 and 1997.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1941-1997 (#1.1-2.2), contains drafts of Hastings' memoirs, letters to her first husband and soon-to-be second husband, oral history transcripts, and letters of commendation.

Series II, UNITED SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS (USO), 1942-1955 (#2.3-2.12), contains Hastings' reports to the USO and correspondence with, articles about the USO by Hastings and others, and miscellaneous reports from the USO.

Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS, AUDIOTAPES, AND OVERSIZED, 1941-1997 (#PD.1-PD.8, T-273.1-T-273.2, 3vf), is arranged in 3 subseries: photographs, audiotapes, and oversized.

Subseries A, Photographs, 1941-1955 (#PD.1-PD.8), contains a retirement scrapbook Jane in Oxnard (1955) and other photographs. Included are images from Skagway (Alaska), Falmouth (Massachusetts), and Chandler (Arizona).

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

Subseries B, Audiotapes, 1995, 1997 (#T-273.1-T-273.2), consists of two oral history interviews.

Subseries C. Oversized, 1943-1945 (#3vf), consists of Hastings' photograph album of Skagway, Alaska.


Jane Hope Hastings was born Katherine Kelenen in Budapest, Hungary, on April 16, 1902. Her mother and father left for America in 1907 or 1908, leaving their three daughters in convents. A year later the girls sailed for America with an older cousin, landed at Ellis Island, and took a train to join their parents in St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly thereafter, Hastings' father returned to Hungary and her mother eventually remarried. When Hastings graduated from high school she immediately left for New York City to pursue an acting career. She changed her name to "Jane Hope," a nickname given her while she was auditioning. She soon got involved with the Columbia Laboratory Players of Columbia University's drama department, appearing in several plays and becoming an understudy for stage director David Belasco's productions. Her marriage to the writer Parkhurst Whitney, however, ended her acting career, and she began to do publicity work for the publishing company J.H. Sears to supplement their income. In 1941, with her marriage failing, Hastings took the advice of a friend and applied for a position with the newly formed United Service Organizations (USO) through the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), one of the six agencies responsible for the USO. Her first assignment after a brief training was in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to direct the USO for Camp Edwards. To Hastings' mind, her most important achievement in Falmouth was opening the Service Wives' Kitchen, a place for wives to spend the day, away from their rented furnished rooms. The wives had each other for company, and were able to cook meals for their servicemen husbands when the men had leave from the base. It became the home-away-from-home for these families serving their country.

The following chronology reflects her fourteen-year career with the USO:

  1. 1941-1943: Falmouth, Massachusetts
  2. 1943-1945: Skagway, Alaska, and 13 outposts
  3. 1945-1946: Sao Luis, Fortaleza, and Recife, Brazil
  4. 1946-1947: Ponce, Puerto Rico
  5. 1948-1949: USO/YWCA National Board, New York, New York
  6. 1949-1950: Chandler, Arizona (Maricopa County USO)
  7. 1950-1951: Rantoul, Illinois (Chanute Field)
  8. 1951-1955: Oxnard, California (Ventura County USO)

After Hastings retired from the USO in 1955, she married Harold J. Barrett (known as "Wayne") that same year; he died in 1964 or 1965. In 1980 she married George Sands Hastings, whom she had met at a Quaker meeting. A former vice-president of the American Machine and Foundry Company, he died on March 16, 1990. Hastings lived another sixteen years, dying in Hamden, Connecticut, on September 10, 2006, at the age of 104.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1941-1997 (#1.1-2.2)
  2. Series II. United Service Organizations (USO), 1942-1955 (#2.3-2.12)
  3. Series III. Photographs, Audiotapes, and Oversized, 1941-1997 (#PD.1-PD.8, T-273.1-T-273.2, 3vf)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 93-M113, 94-M111, 94-M128, 95-M15, 97-M36, 97-M56, 2006-M222

The papers of Jane Hope Hastings were given to the Schlesinger Library by Jane Hope Hastings between 1993 and 1997, and by her estate in 2006.

Processing Information

Processed: April 2007

By: Cat Lea Holbrook

Hastings, Jane Hope, 1902-2006. Papers of Jane Hope Hastings, 1941-1997: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the estate of Jane Hope Hastings.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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